Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Devils and Walls

Last week's arrest of 17 young Muslim males in Ontario who were planning to blow up parliament and (apparently) lop off heads of our heads of state kind of took everyone off guard here. For some reason, it's not something we expected to come out of Toronto. There was a bit of stunned silence from the public, then a bit of high-drama flapping around by the media, then more puzzled silence.

What does it mean?

Of course, there were immediate questions whether we should cut off immigration. But the irony there, and everybody saw it, is that these were Canadian boys, all raised here in Canadian schools. Just like the terrorists who blew up the subway in London, who were all Londoners. And the Madrid bombers, who were home-grown Spaniards.

Terrorism isn't about immigration.

It isn't about borders either. Terrorism flows across borders because it is not people. It's not even in people. Terrorism is ideas and emotions. It's on the Internet and the airwaves. It comes in shipped books, CDs, tapes, music. It comes from here and goes there, and it comes back again. It's like an infection: it spreads, it doesn't walk. It infects some, bypasses others.

If the military campaign in Afghanistan found bin Ladin tomorrow and threw him down an elevator chute, there would still be terrorism the next day.

A line from "The George Fox Song" kept going through my head last week.

"If we give you a pistol, will you fight for the Lord?
But you can't kill the devil with a gun or a sword!"

In other words, you can only kill people with a gun or a sword. The "devil" lives on, moves on.

You can't stop the devil with a wall either. It's like building a wall to stop bird flu. (Or trying to stop the rising oceans with a levee!)

Walls are modern; terrorism is postmodern.


At 11:57 PM, Blogger Richard said...

An issue in my mind is: "How much of what they were doing was real and how much of it was simply macho bluster"?

If we recall George Orwell's novel 1984 (a novel, incidentally that I really don't like), the state maintained a perpetual war: cultivating a hatred of the enemy and a love of the state which protected you.

Maybe I am growing overly cynical as I grow older - but I seem to recall stuff like this when I was growing up in the 70s (sorry, too young to remember the 50s and McCarthiasm).

There seem to be all sorts of serious problems with gangs, mafias, triads, whatnot - just the general desecration of human dignity and life - yet we focus on one aspect as though it is the most important.


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